Rugby Canada’s two Langford-based Academy programs have assembled and resumed training at the Al Charron National Training Center. Both programs are adhering to strict COVID-19 safety protocols.
October 14, 2020 (Langford B.C.) - Rugby Canada’s two Langford-based Academy programs have assembled and resumed training at the Al Charron National Training Center. Both programs are adhering to strict COVID-19 safety protocols.
Maple Leaf Academy:
The Maple Leaf Academy (MLA) is a NextGen program that supports up-and-coming female players who aspire to be selected to Canada’s Women’s Sevens Team and compete at the Olympic Games and on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series. This year’s MLA is comprised of 12 players selected from over 75 applicants from across Canada between the ages of 18 and 22 years old. The MLA is a full-time commitment for these players who train Monday to Friday for 5 hours per day. These athletes receive the added benefit of training alongside the senior women’s sevens team for many of their sessions.
This year, the Maple Leaf roster is a testament to the continued development of the Women’s National Program Pathway. Several of the athletes are graduates of the Ontario-based and Belmont High School-based Development Academies, with additional talent identified through other stakeholder partnerships.
The ongoing efforts of our network of Talent ID coaches across the country continue to advance athletes through to our National Programs. These partnerships are now more important than ever, given the regionalized approach to rugby operations during the COVID-19 pandemic,” shared Kristy Martin Hale, Coordinator Women High Performance.
The Academy is led by head coach and veteran Canadian international in both 15s and 7s, Kelly Russell. Russell is another addition to a group of ex-National team players now serving as Rugby Canada coaches and provides abundant experience to this young crop of players. Amongst other achievements throughout her international career, Russell captained Canada at the 2014 Women’s Rugby World Cup and won Bronze with Canada’s Women’s Sevens Team at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
“I’m very excited to be working with such a dedicated young group of players,” said Russell. “These are obviously very unusual circumstances that we’re training in, but these girls are staying focused and working extremely hard.”
Russell was the assistant coach in the Ontario-based Development Academy last year and has returned to the Al Charron National Training Centre in Langford to lead the Maple Leaf squad. Joining her from the Ontario Academy is athlete Chloe Daniels, the youngest member of the Maple Leaf’s roster. Daniels and her teammates all have their sights set on the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.
For the remainder of 2020, the Academy will follow detailed training schedules with enhanced cleaning and safety protocols at the Al Charron National Training Centre. The domestic and international competition schedule for the MLA remains uncertain due to the global pandemic. For now, the squad will gain invaluable experience by playing controlled scrimmages with the senior women’s team.
The 2020-21 Maple Leaf Academy Roster and Staff:
Chloe Daniels Sutton, ON Aurora Barbarians
Ella O'Regan Victoria, BC Castaway Wanderers
Fancy Bermudez Edmonton, AB Nor'Wester Athletic Association
Karina Gauto Edmonton, AB Edmonton Clansmen
Kiri Ngawati Victoria, BC Unaffiliated
LarahWright Calgary, AB Calgary Hornets
Maggie Mackinnon Sooke, BC Unaffiliated
Makayla Joseph Calgary, AB Notre Dame High School
Renee Gonzalez Minnesota, USA Westshore/UVIC
Shalaya Valenzuela Abbotsford, BC Abbotsford RFC
Sierra Gillis Victoria, BC Unaffiliated
Summer Blackmore Cranbrook, BC Mt. Baker High School
Lizze Gibson Caledon, ON Oakville Crusaders
Kelly Russell, Head Coach
Jenn Joyce, Strength & Conditional Coach
Nicky Allen, Athletic Therapist & Medical Lead
Kristy Martin Hale, Program Manager
Amarah Epp-Stobbe, Sport Scientist
Vanessa Zoras, Sport Dietician
Kirsten Barnes, Mental Performance
John Tait, Director Women’s Performance
Rugby Canada National Development Academy
The Rugby Canada National Development Academy provides a professional training environment for targeted male players from across Canada. The program is comprised largely of uncapped players whose progression suggests they are one to three seasons away from playing senior international rugby. Academy players are evaluated and selected by Rugby Canada in collaboration with Provincial Unions. Identified players include those who have come through current age-grade national and provincial team systems, the various club and university leagues throughout Canada, and Canadian-qualified foreign based players.
The Academy operates 10 months of the year, training at the Al Charron National Training Centre. As a team, the Academy competes in the BC Rugby Men’s Premier League under the name ‘Pacific Pride’ which is an homage to the original Pacific Pride program from the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. The early ‘Pride’ teams helped contribute a majority of players that represented Canada at the 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2011 Rugby World Cups. This included Academy head coach Jamie Cudmore, an alumni from the 2000-01 Pacific Pride team. Cudmore is supported by assistant coach Phil Mack who recently joined the Academy staff.
“I’m excited to get to work with this young talent from across the country,” said Cudmore. “The addition of Phil to our staff will be of huge benefit to the players. He obviously has vast experience at the international level in both 15s and 7s, but his experience coaching with the Seattle Seawolves in MLR is also a huge asset for our program.”
The 2020-21 Academy roster has been selected and assembled for training in Langford. The 36-man squad has split into 3 training bubbles and follows strict pre- and post-training safety and cleaning protocols. At this time, the focus of training has been conditioning and skill development.
The 2020-21 Rugby Canada National Development Academy Roster and Staff:
Chris Atkinson Surrey, BC Surrey Beavers
James Biss London, UK Old Elthamians RFC
D'Shawn Bowen* Kingston, ON Unattached
Liam Bowman Mississauga, ON Oakville Crusaders
Liam Casey Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia KL Saracens
Thomas Davidson Chelsea, QC Toronto Scottish RFC
Reid Davis White Rock, BC Bayside RFC
Foster Dewitt Courtenay, BC Westshore RFC
Kaden Duguid Edmonton, AB Norwesters
Mason Flesch Cobourg, ON Cobourg Saxons
Brock Gallagher Edmonton, AB Strathcona Druids RFC
Sion Griffiths Mill Bay, BC Castaway Wanderers
Nik Hildebrand Nanaimo, BC Burnaby Lake Rugby Club
Thomas Isherwood* Skelmanthorpe, England Foothills Lions RFC
Austin James North Vancouver, BC Burnaby Lake Rugby Club
Dewald Kotze Edmonton, AB Strathcona Druids RFC
Bryce McKinnon Water Valley, AB Regina Rogues
Liam Murray Langley, BC James Bay AA
Anton Ngongo* Victoria, BC Castaway Wanderers
Cody Nhanala Ottawa, ON Ottawa Ospreys RFC
James O'Neill Cochrane, AB Calgary Canucks/UVIC
Isaac Olsen Victoria, BC Castaway Wanderers
Brennig Prevost* Victoria, BC Castaway Wanderers
Emerson Prior Brockville, ON Peterborough Pagans
Tyler Rowland Mississauga, ON Toronto Nomads
Alex Russell* Montreal, QC McGill University
Michael Smith White Rock, BC UBC Thunderbirds
Crosby Stewart Prince Rupert, BC UVIC Vikes
Josh Thiel Abbotsford, BC Abbotsford RFC
Siaki Vikilani Burnaby, BC Burnaby Lake Rugby Club
Taitusi Vikilani Burnaby, BC Burnaby Lake Rugby Club
Brock Webster* Uxbridge, ON Oshawa Vikings
Tyler Wong North Vancouver, BC Unattached
*players also training with the 7s program
Jamie Cudmore, Head Coach
Phil Mack, Assistant Coach
Michael Deasy, Strength & Conditioning Coach
Andrew McMillan, Athletic Therapist
Kingsley Jones, Director of Men’s Performance Rugby
About Rugby Canada:
Rugby Canada is the national governing body of the sport of Rugby Union in Canada. They administer and operate Men’s and Women’s Senior and Junior National programs in both rugby XV’s and 7s, as well as govern the Club and community game for more than 30,000 registered participants from coast to coast in conjunction with ten Provincial Union members.
Rugby Canada is headquartered at the Al Charron National Training Centre in Langford, BC, with staff also working from Vancouver, Toronto and Ottawa. Rugby Canada business operations, programs and events are delivered nationwide, including the internationally recognized HSBC Canada Sevens annual tournaments.
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